Yes, I have returned to the project of baking my way through The Joy of Cookies. And writing about it. Where have I been? you may ask. Out of my mind busy with work and being a mom and … well, in the end, spectacularly sick. More on all that later.
First, cookies. This recipe has roots in England, although the rum suggests it has traveled a bit. Sharon Tyler Herbst’s notes about how many cookies a recipe will yield (I am irrationally fond of that term in food-making) are never accurate in my experience. I have chalked that up to my propensity to use different-sized cookie cutters than what she recommends. This time, however, I was exact in my measurements, even to how thickly I rolled out the dough. The dough, by the by, is 1/2 a cup of cold butter cut into a mix of flour, sugar, and ground ginger. Then 1/2 a cup of sour cream binds all that together (with a little help from time spent chilling in the refrigerator). But enough about dough. Let’s talk yield. Four dozen, she says. More like 28 cookies. Yes, 28.
The ginger-rum buttercream for the center, however? That would have filled 6 dozen. Easily. Which I should have seen coming what with three times the butter. That’s correct. 1-1/2 cups of butter, minced crystallized ginger, 3 cups of powdered sugar, and rum. And I’m surprised by the amount of buttercream yielded? Silly me.
Oh well. I will just have to make more of the cookie bit. Which is not a hardship. These are light and delicious and very rich. The rings of cookie on top are glazed with egg white and sprinkled with coarse sugar crystals before baking. Sweet.
And now for something completely different. My work, as a volunteer-coordinator for a tutoring program for a church at a city school, is not technically a job as I am not paid hourly nor do I receive a salary. I am paid a stipend. A meager stipend. The “job” is supposed to average out to about 20 hours per week, but it’s way more like 30 to 35 and if I did more of the fundraising, fund-finding part than I do, I’d be working a full-time job. Which I don’t want and did not sign on for. Further, the nature of the work means that there are times of year, and I know I’ve mentioned this before, that require non-stop work. And there are times when I have much more leisure. The latter average 10 hours a week or so, but are not enough to make up for the killer pace I must adhere to during weeks like these just past and yet to come. As it is, I have to schedule days off for myself, and I’m not good about keeping to that. I haven’t had one true day off in over a month. There’s just too much to attend to at this time of year for me to do very much else but eat, sleep and breathe this job that is not a job.
And so I have been doing that, even when Kate was going through her hellacious seven days of two competitions, a winners’ recital and a master class whilst trying to keep up with AP Physics and the rest of her academic load, and needed me to ferry her to extra lessons and whatnot. I did my job managing to untangle a complicated scheduling snafu (fubar, more like, as long as I’m throwing around naughty military acronyms) on the school’s part into something legible and workable for the 60-some volunteers who rely on me to do just that. You know, without crying. I did it and managed to keep most everyone happy, and attended a ministry fair, and prepared for another, and … well, there was more, and it was unpleasant and is done, and that’s all I will say about that.
And then, in the middle of all that, just as the first week of tutoring was ready to begin, I got spectacularly and suddenly sick. Bronchitis-like, with all the exhaustion, phlegm, achey-ness and coughing, but none of the fever. My asthma was worse than ever, and I walked around a little hunched over, my back rounded to expand my lungs a bit, all without even noticing the change in posture until the day (was it Wednesday? I don’t remember) when I began to feel better and like I might live a good long while after all after days of thinking I might not, and very much less grey and blue. And I did walk around through it all because I could not stop working to be sick. When I wasn’t working working, I worked on writing a paper for class, but the work part was so time-consuming the paper wasn’t done until five days after it was due despite my best efforts.
A 20-hour-a-week job shouldn’t keep one from taking a class once a month. Or from preparing a meal for one’s family three nights in a row. Or from enjoying the time spent walking a dog. Or from attending one of your daughter’s events. Or from guilt-free moments of knitting. Or from baking cookies just for the joy of it. But that’s enough of that.